Your Business Story, a Map to the Goldmine

David BabouleneWriting is like mining for gold hidden in the hillsides of your mind.”David Baboulene

Everyone knows the stories of their favorite brands like Ben & Jerry’s, Kashi, Tom’s of Maine, or Burt’s Bees. We have fallen in love with Colonel Sanders and Aunt Jemimah, not to mention Walt Disney. Not everyone chooses to see successful businesses as the money-making corporate engines that they really are. Especially when our favorite small companies are bought and absorbed by major corporations like Unilevel, Kellogg’s, Colgate-Palmolive, or Clorox while retraining the same, familiar, public face.

In the case of Milwaukee’s own Alterra Coffee the founders, Lincoln Fowler, Ward Fowler and Paul Miller simply sold their “story” to the beverage division of Mars, Inc., a corporate giant with $33 billion in annual sales and 72,000 employees. The three friends started roasting coffee in 1993 and opened their first Alterra café in 1994. In 2010, they made a deal with Mars.

“Fundamentally, we sold the seven letters that make up the name Alterra,” says co-owner Lincoln Fowler. “They are going to use our brand, coupled with our expertise and intellectual property.” And they will continue to own the Milwaukee roasting facility and nine local cafés, but with a new name.

Rick Romell of the Journal Sentinel reports:

But in buying the Alterra name, Mars can say, that its coffee was born in Milwaukee in 1993 when three friends, “working nights while keeping their daytime businesses afloat,” needed a strong brew. “In order to get it,” the Website declares, next to a thumbnail photo of the popular and historic lakefront cafe Fowler and his partners opened in 2002, “they decided that they had to roast their own — and ALTERRA™ was born!”

That’s the sort of yarn you can’t simply invent and feed to consumers.

But it was a yarn that could be sold to a bigger concern seeking to acquire something soulful.

Have you ever considered the value of your own business story? Trader Joe’s started out as a small chain of convenience stores back in the 1950’s. Nowadays, if you visit any of their stores or their Website, that story is displayed prominently in wall murals and as a timeline tale that celebrates their heritage.  

Are you ready to discover and tell your own authentic story… with more than just words?

Almost every small business has a rich tale to tell. These stories are what make them unique and distinctive. Stories are why most people find small businesses more attractive than big, faceless corporations.

Myrna CohnBusiness Management Consultant Myrna Cohn spent more than 3 decades advising major corporate clients on marketing tactics and strategies. Several years ago, she retired from her career in Chicago to a more relaxed agenda in Baileys Harbor where she paints and teaches memoir writing.

“Each and every successful business has a rich and engaging story to tell.” explains Myrna. “With the shift toward a social interactive landscape, advertising now becomes all about sharing that warm and friendly personal identity. What better way than to tell the story of how you got here?”

Contact me to begin mapping out your story and sharing it with the world…

3rd Wednesday Monthly Social Media Breakfasts in Door County #SMBDC at Glas, Oct 16

“Mapping and Connecting the Nodes in a Social Blueprint” is the topic slated for the first monthly meeting of this season’s Social Media Breakfast Door County (SMBDC), a community learning concept spearheaded in the “off-season” by DesignWise Studios marketing consultant, Stephen Kastner.

Stephen Kastner
Stephen Kastner

“We’ll meet in the upstairs conference room at Glas, the Green Coffeehouse in Sturgeon Bay from 9 – 10:30 am on Wednesday, October 16,” says Kastner “…and we shall begin the process of selecting, creating and then connecting the “dots” from Websites through all of the various channels we can use to communicate with a public fan base online. I call it a Social Blueprint.”

Glas features a variety of bakery and breakfast menu items as well as coffee beverages and tea that may be purchased downstairs and brought up to the 2nd floor conference room. Participants are encouraged to bring their laptops and wireless devices in order to join in the dialogue as DesignWise will project a live Twitterstream comment display as the meeting takes place. Slides and Website examples will also be projected on a large backdrop screen.

Door County’s monthly Social Media Breakfasts take place at different locations around the Peninsula on the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 9 – 10:30 am. The events are free and reservations are not necessary.


Glas, the Green Coffeehouse
67 East Maple St.
Suite B (2nd floor conference room)
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin


Next Social Media Breakfast Door County Goes North to Ellison Bay, Jan. 19

The January monthly SMBDC meeting is sponsored by Brew Coffeehouse, providing participants with delicious coffee and snacks on Wednesday, January 19 from 9 – 10:30 am.

Mark Zuckerberg

At the close of 2010 when Time Magazine named Mark Zuckerberg their person of the year, they not only paid homage to the creator of Facebook. They also recognized the dynamic change that he has brought about in the way that more than 500 million people live and share their lives in the digital age. Soon after, the Washington Post announced that Facebook had ascended into the number one position as the world’s most visited Website. What was once a Google-centric Web has become a people-centric Web.

But, something even greater has taken place. We no longer think of Facebook as a Website. It has become a place… a virtual place that you go to when you want to hang out and check in with your friends. The next monthly meeting of the Social Media Breakfast Door County (SMBDC) group will explore what this shift means to the Peninsula’s business owners, independent artists and non-profit organizations who are seeking the greatest return on their marketing investment.

How Facebook Pages are the new Yellow Pages – and the listings are free,” will be January’s topic of discussion led by new media marketing consultant Stephen Kastner, founder of the SMBDC meetings. “The past decade was all about building a World Wide Web of information delivered in Websites,” says Kastner. “The next decade is already more about the World Wide Web of people.”

Stephen Kastner

Kastner publishes a free book, “6 Steps to Becoming a Social Business” in which he quotes Professor Sut Jhally, founder of the Media Education Foundation: “Advertisers have to go to where the audience is… if they want to sell products. They have no option but to go where the audience has gone. If the audience has gone online, gone to iPods, gone to Facebook – wherever the audience has gone – that is where advertisers must go.”

The book is a never-ending project, written about a subject that is continuously changing. Printing it would be a waste of time Kastner says. In three months it has already had more than 15 revisions, the most-recent of which moves Facebook into the “First Step” position in order of importance. You can download a free copy of the latest version at his Website.

On the third Wednesday of each month, Kastner brings real people together at various Door County locations to have a breakfast dialogue about social media. The English Inn in Fish Creek, Glas Coffeehouse in Sturgeon Bay and the Harbor Fish Market in Baileys harbor have each hosted SMBDC meetings which began in October, 2010.

The January breakfast will be sponsored and hosted by Brew Coffee House in Ellison Bay. Rumor has it that Jennifer Lee, Door County artist, barista and Brew manager will be baking some specialty treats, providing complimentary coffee and snacks for participants. The SMBDC meetings are free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested out of consideration for the host venue.

You can email or call 920.256.9449 with questions or to make a casual reservation for the Wednesday, January 19 SMBDC meeting at Brew Coffee House in Ellison Bay from 9 – 10:30 am. More information is available online at

Harbor Fish Market & Grille to Host Next Social Media Breakfast Door County #SMBDC Wed, Dec 15

Social networking means “More honey in Door County, when DCBs create a hive mind.”

René Dubos

“In most human affairs, the idea is to think globally and act locally,” wrote Pulitzer Prize winning French humanist René Dubos in 1972. For more than four decades I have been following that directive in northeastern Wisconsin starting with the peninsula’s first Nordic Ski center in 1971 when that sport was just emerging.

We started a newspaper guide to ski trails in Door County back then, for a sport that no one but Al Johnson and I even knew existed. But, we printed 5,000 copies and delivered them to ski shops all over Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois… and the rest is history.

It’s much faster and easier to get news and information distributed now, but the tools have changed. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are gaining an exponentially increasing number of users who spend more time online at home, in the office and on the road – using handheld devices for communication and navigation. These ever-changing Web tools are the focus of Kastner’s Social Media Breakfast Door County (SMBDC) events taking place at different venues on the 3rd Wednesday of each month.

On Wednesday, December 15 from 9 – 10:30 am, the Harbor Fish Market & Grille will host the latest SMBDC meeting at their Baileys Harbor location, with a free buffet breakfast for participants. The event will lead-off with an exploration of “Google’s View of the World,” beginning with why a Gmail business account is key to unlocking a wealth of free marketing resources. There will be a live online workshop demonstration of how to claim your free listing in “Google Places,” enhancing your map listing with photographs and videos. Further discussion will focus on the future of Web design when seen from a Smartphone’s perspective. The meetings are open-ended so a question and answer session is always included.

In November, more than 15 leaders from local not-for-profits met for an SMBDC gathering at Glas Coffeehouse to get an overview of how social media works in their organizations. It was agreed that a step-by-step approach would greatly benefit everyone starting to take up these new methods of marketing online. With that in mind, we will center the following meetings around each of the chapters of his free book on social media, “6 Steps to Becoming a Social Business.” The chapters include: Google, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn and the book is available as a downloadable PDF.

The SMBDC meetings are free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested out of consideration for the host and staff at the Harbor Fish Market & Grille. You can email or call 920.256.9449 with questions or to make a reservation.

Fox Valley’s New North Social Media Breakfast on “Tourism Industry” Features Stephen Kastner… on Panel of Experts, June 15

For more than a decade DesignWise Studios has been promoting Door County’s arts, natural beauty, quiet sports and cultural heritage through various online endeavors including Door County Style, Chefs and Compass Magazines with a strong emphasis on demonstrating the impact of social media.

“At first, there were just eight of us that decided to get together every month to talk about how we were using social media and what worked and what didn’t,” says Abby Gutowski, Public Relations Manager at the Weidert Group in Appleton. “Now, these monthly social media breakfasts have grown to where we have sponsors and 60 to 80 people attending each meeting.”

That was 15 months ago when the New North Social Media Breakfast group (or #nnsmb for those who wish to track it on Twitter) was just beginning. Now, these business learning opportunities have garnered a large following and take place in a variety of different public venues, alternating between Appleton and Green Bay each month. The meetings are true-to-form with “wired” attendees at all levels of experience, posting streaming updates to Facebook and Twitter on their laptops and smart phones while the breakfast meetings are underway.

Stephen J. Kastner

“This is the ‘new model’ in action,” says Stephen Kastner, marketing consultant with DesignWise.Net…works. “Social media is all about spawning and participating in an authentic conversation. It’s a one-to-one-to-many discussion, where clients expect to get direct responses from business leaders. Businesses that pay attention by listening and responding to the continuously flowing thought stream in social media, will be rewarded with meaningful relationships and powerful loyalties.”

Attending these breakfast groups could be more beneficial than earning an AACSB online MBA for your business or to help you create limitless room for advancement with your employer.

Kastner is one of a panel of four experts in the use of social media for marketing that will be speaking on the “Tourism Industry” – the topic of the next NNSMB, taking place in Appleton on Tuesday, June 15 from 8 – 9:30 am at the sponsoring Outagamie County Regional Airport’s (ATW) Public Safety Building.

Joining Kastner will be Kim Sipploa, Marketing Manager, ATW (@ATWairport), Trina Sankey, Senior Project Manager, Travel Guard (@TravelGuard and and Dick Knapinski, Director of Corporate Communications, EAA (@EAAUpdate and They will explain how they utilize social media to connect with travelers, publicize events and increase revenue.

The New North Social Media Breakfast is provided to business professionals, both experienced and newcomers to social media, at no cost. Also, due to high interest, the New North Social Media Breakfast is implementing a new online RSVP system. To sign up for a breakfast, interested parties simply search “New North Social Media Breakfast” on and order a free ticket.

The Breakfast was founded in March 2009 by Dana VanDen Heuvel of Marketing Savant in partnership with Weidert Group, Inc. and Element. The group, consisting of Fox Valley professionals, meets monthly to discuss how social media is impacting their businesses. More information can be found at The New North Social Media Breakfast Ning group at